January, 2004
Newsletter of
The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
2928 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone: 510-843-6935
Fax: 510-843-6006

Editor's Corner

By Daveed Mandell

Happy New Year! My, how time flies!

As we begin 2004, let's look back briefly at last year's very successful November Harvest Festival and December Holiday Party. Center members have good reason to be proud of these celebrations. They demonstrate how cooperation among staff, members and volunteers results in well organized and smoothly running events.

Thanks to all our members who pitched in to decorate the Center, prepare food and staff the baked goods and crafts tables. Some 80 people attended the Harvest Festival, while about 65 graced our Holiday Party. Everyone appeared to be involved in the fun and frolic of both occasions. Many remarked how much they enjoyed the entertainment offered by our dedicated and talented chorus.

We're thrilled about how much money we raised during the two celebrations. The Harvest Festival cleared $1209.45, and the Holiday Party crafts table netted $370.

I want to encourage members to submit informational items, announcements and/or short articles for the Newsletter. Please contact me via E-Mail at, or by phone at 510-665-9260.

Here's wishing the Center and all its members a very productive 2004!

Thanks to Our Volunteers

Our heartfelt thanks go to all the friendly and conscientious volunteers who worked so hard to make our last two celebrations resounding successes. We are pleased to list their names below:

Stephanie Allen; Jerry Amundson; Richard Cardoza; Serena and Reggie Clayton and Family; Peggy Duncan; Terri Moore; Michael Norton; Susan Worthing; Pamela Zeiter.

President's Message
By Grant Metcalf

During 2003 we accomplished a great deal in and around the Center. Our membership grew significantly. We had excellent turnouts for our social activities such as the picnic in August and the Harvest Festival in November. Our March Pasta and Bingo Party, June Bake Sale and November Harvest Festival fundraisers all did very well.

Last year, we made several improvements to the building. We installed panic bars on the double front doors for easier use. We've just installed a new doorbell on the right-hand side of the double doors. At the end of last year, we poured a concrete ramp, which allows much better access to the main front door. Last but not least, everybody loves the new paper towel dispensers which our contractor, Tony Anthony, installed on the morning of the Harvest Festival.

I personally am most pleased about the installation of accessible pedestrian signals at Ashby and Adeline. It only took six years from the first request until the City of Berkeley finally completed the project. The new signals are a great help to those who want to cross this very complex intersection.

During the next couple of months Jan Santos will be developing our website. It will provide lots of information about the Center and its activities. A web presence is an important tool these days for letting people know about the Center.

We will continue to make improvements to the facility. Among other changes, in April we plan to remodel the bathrooms in order to make wheelchair access somewhat easier. We are eagerly awaiting the delayed arrival of a 55 inch projection TV which will be great for our visually impaired members when showing movies.

The old year was a good one and we look forward to an even better New Year. You can be an active partner in making it all happen. The Center needs your talents and skills to enhance and improve the services it now provides to the community. Please contact us to discuss how you can help the Center grow and prosper.

Upcoming Events

During our next business meeting on Saturday, January 24, from 1 to 4 PM, members will elect several officers. The Nominating Committee has submitted the following slate:

First Vice-President, Lizz Deeff; Recording Secretary, Jan Santos; Treasurer, Ida Johnson; and five Directors, Ben Deeff; Sandra Fancher; Mark Pighin; Carl Simmons; Dorothy Vallerga.

Only dues-paying members may vote, so please submit your $5 dues immediately. As in previous elections, the President will solicit nominations from the floor.

Please join us for this important meeting and election. Dinner will follow, consisting of bacon-wrapped chicken, baked potatoes, carrots, rolls, green salad and (maybe) angel food cake with orange sauce. Members pay $7 for the meal; nonmembers pay $8. Please RSVP, if you plan to eat dinner with us, by Wednesday, January 21.

Laissez les bonstemps roulez!

Yes indeed! The good times will definitely roll during our annual Mardi Gras dance and New-Orleans-style feast, to be held Saturday, February 28, from 4 to 8 PM. As in past years, we'll dance to music performed by Bill Barker's fine band, Bush Street Blue. This year, we'll serve hot links and gumbo, at $10 a plate. And, of course, we'll sell beer and wine. Dinner reservations must be made by Wednesday, February 25.

If you want to get rich quickly, come join us on Saturday, March 27, from 2 to 6 PM, and try your luck during our annual pasta and bingo party! Each bingo game will cost a dime, and you'll pay a quarter for the blackout. To participate, all you have to do is reserve a pasta plate by Wednesday, March 24, and pay $7 at the door.

General Announcements

The Center will be closed on Monday, January 19, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It will also be closed on Monday, February 16, for Presidents' Day.

Classes are continuing at their normal times. Please consult the schedule we sent with last December's newsletter, if you're interested in taking part in a specific class. New participants are always welcome!

Will McCurdy Remembered

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of long-time Center member Will Darel McCurdy, who died last month of throat cancer. He was 60 years old.

Born in Crawford, Texas, Will lost his sight, his hands and much of his hearing at age 12 in an accidental dynamite explosion. However, his disabilities didn't prevent him from working with tools, or inventing and building all kinds of gadgets. For instance, he built a computer keyboard that could be operated with his arms.

Will taught economics to deaf and blind students at Ohlone College in Fremont, and played a key role in establishing the computer center for disabled students at California State University in Hayward. Will also ran a business delivering groceries to elderly and disabled people.

Will met his wife Katrina, who is also a Center member, while attending the Orientation Center for the Blind. We offer our condolences to Katrina and family on their loss. May Will rest in peace!

Free Furniture Available!

Center members Joyce and Koji Iishi are giving away a small desk and bookcase. If interested, please call them at 510-527-1776.

"I think that the idea that literature should instruct and delight is perfectly sound, provided we understand that it must do both at once." --Wendell Berry